Ah, to be Stephen Elop. Under his three-year leadership at Nokia, he oversaw plummeting market share, a plummeting stock price, and a potential Nokia bankruptcy. And now he's getting his reward: $25 million when the Microsoft deal closes and he takes the reins as Microsoft's head of mobile and devices. As the saying goes, life isn't fair.
The New York Times reports that Elop will be paid $25.5 million when the deal closes and he jumps to Microsoft. Microsoft will pay approximately 70% of that, with Nokia picking up the rest.
Before heading to Nokia, Elop was head of Microsoft's business division. Nokia paid him $6.2 million to leave Microsoft for Nokia CEO in 2010. That means in the last three years, he's been paid $31.7 million to leave Microsoft, severely damage Nokia, then head back to Microsoft, bringing the Nokia mobile business with him. Not a bad haul.
What did he do to earn all that money? When he took over at Nokia, the company had a 34.2% share of the global smartphone market. He made the controversial move to switch to Windows Phone. The move didn't pay off for Nokia -- at the time of the sale to Microsoft, Nokia had about 3% of the worldwide smartphone market.
Nokia's market value plummeted as well, with its stock price tanking. Quartz reports that under Elop's leadership Nokia's market value dropped by about a third.
Things were only getting worse. Gartner's most recent report about worldwide mobile phone sales shows that not only has Nokia's market share been dropping, but it has been selling fewer total phones, even as worldwide sales of phones from other makers continues to grow. In the second quarter of 2013, Gartner says, worldwide mobile phone sales were up by 3.6% compared to a year previous. Nokia sales during that same period fell from 83 million to 61 million.
The $25 million Elop was paid to go to Microsoft could eventually seem like chump change if he is made CEO of Microsoft, as many people expect.
Conspiracy theorists no doubt believe that this was Elop's plan all along -- get Nokia to bet the farm on Windows Phone so that Microsoft would eventually buy Nokia, and pay him plenty of money to move back to the mother ship. I don't buy it. No conspiracy is needed. It's just one more example of someone failing up.